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CaseStudies - Making your Case

Friday, 27 May 2016 12:38

The FRN and Case Studies

We have created a simple template for you to follow and fill in. Click here to access it. 

Telling your Story with Case Studies

Case Studies is such a dreary title isn't it? It sounds like a very technical document that could be the answer to insomnia... Which is the exact opposite to what it really is. 

A case study is your way to showing exactly how your charity or organisation is truly helping the community one person at a time. It provides a personal account of someone's experience with you, showing how you were able to help this person and invariably it hits the heart strings of those reading it, often allowing them to relate to that experience and appreciate your work even more.  

Why Waste Time Telling a Story? 

It's true to say that telling a story is much more effective that throwing bullet points and technical jargon every which way. In fact, it is science... In an online article titled The Science of Storytelling the author explains how our brains become much more active when being told a story. We engage with the narative, connect to the experiences being described and we empathise. We will also remember that story and retell it far more than we would when we are given a list of facts. 

And so, if you were to describe a set of circumstances that sent Joe Bloggs to your door, detailed how you helped him and recounted the effects of your help, you will have reached far more people than the figures that helping Joe Bloggs affected. IE You helped 2,000 people in 2014 (of which Joe Bloggs was one). 

It is important at this point to explain that case studies do not replace direct facts and figures, they compliment them and run along side those figures, exampling just what those figures mean to that one person.  

Who is a Case Study?

The case study can be anyone you have been in contact with. Perhaps a customer who came in and expressed their joy at the support you offer, the volunteer or trainee who went on to become a full time member of staff, or were able to get full time employment elsewhere because of the work that you did with them and the training and care that you gave them. Perhaps it is a person working in a local service providers who is grateful for the number of people you have helped them help. It can be anyone that you reach. 

What Should I Consider When Looking at a Case Study? 

Person ALWAYS comes first; story second.  

When you start out finding a case study you must always have their absolute best interests at heart. Ensure that they understand where you would like to use this story and the implications behind it. For instance, if the story goes to the local press or onto your Facebook page, their ex-partner or family might see it. And on the internet a story can pop back up years later and be shared all over again.  

What do I need? 

The NCVO map it out really well in this check list they have created

This short guide provides an introduction to developing strong people-based case studies, built on informed consent and a ‘duty of care’.

Things you'll need

  • Informed consent
  • Well thought-out interview questions
  • Good quality photographs
  • Well kept records of case studies' details and consent
1 Informed consent

It is vital to follow the process of 'informed consent' when you are approaching a potential case study. 

This means they fully understand the role they will play and the ways in which their story may be used, before giving written approval via a consent form.

Start by explaining what you’re trying to achieve and how they can help by sharing their experiences with you.  Reassure them that none of their contact details would be shared with a journalist without their consent.

Check if they are happy to use their real name.  Using a pseudonym may impact on filming/ photography opportunities. 

Ask them about which types of media they would be happy to be featured in, and explore the possible impacts of this with them - having an ex-partner or a family member see their story in the press, for example.

Make sure they are happy and that you really understand their story. Get their written approval on the notes you prepare and a consent form, to confirm what’s been agreed.

2 Interview questions

Prepare your questions beforehand

Think about:  

1. The key messages you are trying to communicate
2. The story your target audiences will be interested in
3. How you will approach any sensitive questions/issues

The basic information journalists will need

1. Name or pseudonym
2. Age
3. Location (which town or city they live nearest to and what their local paper is, to help inform media planning)
4. Former and current occupations
5. Children? How many and how old?

You’ll also need to ask

1. Which sections of the media are they happy to speak to?
2. Are they happy to be photographed?
3. When is the best time to contact them, and how much notice would they need for an interview opportunity?

Other than that, keep questions open to encourage the case study to talk in their own way about things.  Make sure you give them the opportunity to ask you any questions they have, and leave them your contact details in case they want to discuss things at a later date.

3 Creating an easy to use library

Style and format

  • Write up the case study information using the style of your target media and in a way that will engage your audiences 
  • Include some notes on how the individual comes across, how confident they are, any sensitivities or issues, and any support they may need, for internal purposes
  • Keep it short, but detailed - a few paragraphs will usually suffice 
    Include quotes throughout the case study to add authenticity and bring the story to life


  • Get a copy of any high quality photos the case study is willing to share with you (if they don’t have any, check whether they’d be happy to be photographed for the media)
  • Save pictures as captioned jpeg files, less than 1MB in size and 600 pixels wide so they can be easily emailed, and keep a high resolution version on file suitable for print reproduction.


The FRN and Case Studies

We have created a simple template for you to follow and fill in. Click here to access it. 

Read 1765 times Last modified on Tuesday, 31 May 2016 09:27

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